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auctioneer1939Is is commonplace in the United States to use the term “Public auction” to denote, essentially, an auction.

Today, we ask “What exactly does the word ‘public’ mean in relation to the word ‘auction?'”

It appears the British organized regular auctions of books and art in the 1600’s and used the term “public outcry.” The terms “auction” and “public auction” were used interchangeably.

Others have used the term “public auction” to differentiate from a “private auction” in terms of whether or not the event is open to the public or only invited persons.

Still others have more so used the term “public auction” signaling that the event is advertised in the public — as in “known about, generally.”

Lastly, some use the words “public auction” to denote that the actual bids will be made public — disclosed — to all other interested parties versus a “private auction” where the bids/bidders are kept secret from the other bidders.

So it seems the words “public auction” may mean:

    1. The auction involves an auctioneer’s public outcry
    2. The auction is open to the public
    3. The auction has been advertised in the public forum
    4. The auction identifies the bid amounts and bidders publicly

It’s probably okay that there are different interpretations regarding the words “public auction.” However, it is also important for the public to know which definition is being used — if one in particular is in mind when the auctioneer writes that advertisement.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.